Optimizing a LinkedIn profile is critical for job seekers. But what if you are perfectly content in the position that you have, what is the benefit for you?
The benefit is the “what if”.
What if you were offered an opportunity to more of what you love, for more money, maybe in a desired part of the country? What if you were asked to serve as a consultant or expert on an intriguing project?
You may not be looking for these things, but wouldn’t it be nice if they came to you?
Recruiters are looking for the best talent, they do not limit themselves to only the truly available candidates – they look for passive candidates. They leverage LinkedIn because it can provide results quickly and effectively.
According to The Undercover Recruiter, 97% of all HR and staffing professionals are using LinkedIn in their recruiting efforts.
The question then becomes – how can I be found?
The right keywords in your profile, using them often and to your advantage.
What Are Keywords?
These are the words that are important in finding that which we search. If you are looking for a certain position, the words you use to search that are relevant for the position are keywords. They are buzzwords, jargon and industry language. It is how the industry or companies describe the job, profession or duties.
Keywords are critical in Search Engine Optimization to filter through search engines, social networks (LinkedIn) and applicant tracking systems (ATS) and resume databases.
Where Should Keywords Be Used?
The most effective sections in LinkedIn to use keywords are:
- Job Titles in Experience
It has been suggested that extra weighting is given in LinkedIn search algorithm for keywords in the Headline, Experience Job Title and Skills sections.
Before we get to how to best use the keywords, let’s get a foundation of what they are and how to find them.
What Keywords Should Be Used?
The keywords that you use will depend upon your industry, job, experience, qualifications and where you want to go in that next level.
Keywords are also how you describe what you do.
In January of 2015, many articles published lists of the top 10 buzzwords for 2014, which was a variation of the following:
Motivated, Passionate, Creative, Extensive Experience, Responsible, Strategic, Track Record, Driven, Organized/Organizational, Effective, Expert, Innovative
Soon we will be getting the lists of what was overused in 2015. Although somewhat helpful, these lists tell you about the previous year, not forecasting for this year and what to use now.
I think there is a bit of subjectivity in the lists. If organizational is in your title or instrumental in the value you provide – use it. If you are a recognized expert, then say it. Yes, many people may overuse the term expert; however, if you demonstrate it in your context then you are perfectly fine using the word ‘expert’.
Determining the Right Keywords
There are several sources for mining effective keywords.
Talk It Out
You are a great resource that you might be discounting. Try this exercise – sit down in front of a computer and type out a conversation that you would have with someone unfamiliar with your job. Describe to them what you do and how you do it. Include people or groups that you work with and how you work with them.
From this ‘conversation’ you can mine several possibilities.
Search For That Job
Do a search on your own or previous job. Pay attention to titles, products, services, job responsibilities, certifications or degrees listed in the requirements or responsibilities.
Job boards are a great resource to mine for keywords. Indeed.com is a very robust job board and easy to navigate. It also has other tools on the website that can be helpful – more on that in a bit.
Scope Out Your Competition
Do a search on LinkedIn for those doing the job you are doing or the job you want to be doing and mine their profile.
The top searches will have certain items in common; pay attention to not only the words, but how they are used.
Power Your Research
Once you have blocks of text, now is the time to synchronize your research and condense it to the most effective keywords.
Copy and paste the text from your internal conversation, competition and job boards into a word cloud application. Tagcrowd.com is a phenomenal site that takes the information you paste and creates a visual word cloud highlighting the most important and often used words.
Below is a screen shot of a word cloud from a project manager position found on indeed.com:
Get Geeky With It
You can take your search one step further on Indeed.com and see how certain keywords are trending.
Go to Indeed.com/jobtrends
– Type in the terms you want to compare; use quotes around the words and separate with a comma
– Click on Find Trends
– The graph will show historical information on how those words have been used in job postings, how they are trending and how popular they are recently.
Below is a screen shot comparing Information Technology with IT, as an example.
How to Use Those Keywords
Remember, these keywords are impactful in describing your brand and the value that you add to an organization, team and clients.
This prime real estate has 120 characters to benefit from – use it to your advantage. Go beyond your title and company and utilize keywords that make an impact for you, your brand and your value.
Instead of “Information Technology Director, ZBC Company”
What about: “IT Director Leading Global Enterprise Growth Strategies – Improves Quality – Strengthens Productivity & Efficiencies”
That packs a little more of a punch!
Summary & Experience
Use those keywords to tell not only what you do, but how you do it.
The summary is not the place to list your current job as a series of job duties; it should tell your story. Your experience section should follow suit – do not list a bullet point list of what you were hired to do; tell the reader what you did.
If you were involved in a Six Sigma project and it had an impact, let the reader know. Simply stating ‘Six’ Sigma is not enough. It is putting keywords into your profile, true, but it is not painting a picture.
Instead, try: “Instrumental in implementing Lean Six Sigma processes that significantly improved processes resulting in a 46% decrease in costs for xyz.”
Reflect back on the top LinkedIn profiles of your peers or of those holding the position you seek to get an idea of how to communicate your value.
Job Titles in Experience
Your job title must match up on your profile to what is used on your resume and what the company listed; however, you have 100 characters to expand on that to create a more complete, and impactful, picture.
“Financial Analyst – Asset Management, Market Analysis, Trend Forecasting, Profit & Loss, Auditing”
And that is 97 characters.
When requesting recommendations, forgo the boilerplate template that is provided and create a personalized message. Use keywords when asking for a recommendation to encourage the responder to do the same.
“Joe, as you and I worked together at KDI Company and you are familiar with my skills in trend forecasting, corporate auditing and asset management, I would greatly appreciate if you would write a recommendation for me that I could post on my LinkedIn profile.”
You have not only politely asked for a recommendation, you have given a road map of what you want to highlight!
Select from the skills provided by LinkedIn ones that best support you, your value and your brand. Remember, the right key words in your skills section have been said to have extra weighting in the LinkedIn search algorithm.